Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration remembering loved ones who have passed on. It is celebrated in many communities in Mexico and the United States. Here are some children's books I've been reading over the past week to my elementary school classes:
On Day of the Dead by Yolanda James, illustrated by Russ Daff. Dingles & Co. 2008. Simple, clear text describes ways to celebrate, including making pan de Muertos, or round, sweet bread, ofrentas, or home altars remembering dead family members. The altar is decorated with symbols of earth, fire, water and air in the fruits, candles, drinks and papel picado or cut paper decorations. Other things to make and display include sugar skulls, skull masks, marigold flowers and favorite foods. Families sing and dance together and visit the graveyard to remember their loved ones. The illustrations in this book are brightly colored, warm and vibrant, showing the love and care of close-knit family. This book would be good for beginning readers. Recommended for ages 2- 7.
Uncle Monarch by Judy Goldman, illustrated by Rene King Moreno. Boyd's Mill Press, 2008. Lupita shares the joy of returning monarch butterflies and remembers loved ones who have died as she celebrates the Day of the Dead with Tia Urbano. When he becomes sick and dies she has a way to celebrate his life. Very sweet story and lovely connection with monarch butterflies. Another blog review here at Nummybooks.
I Remember Abuelito; a Day of the Dead Story by Janice Levy. Another sweet story connecting monarch migration with remembering loved ones who have passed away. Classes studying monarchs will find these books to fit right in with the theme. Levy brings out the elements of the family and community celebration while sharing the tender moments of a child and her grandmother.
Just a Minute! a Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Moralas. In this funny book Senior Calaveras tries to trick Grandma Beetle into coming away with him but she is just too busy getting ready to party with her grandchildren. Counting words in Spanish and English invite the audience to read along as she counts her decorations and preparations. Bright, bold illustrations add to the festivities. Yuyi Moralas is an artist, and storyteller from Mexico, now living in California. She has a fabulous website here with printables and more. At Chronical books she talks about her work and Dia de los Muertos.
School Library Journal has a book list online.
The Museum of International Folkart has a page dedicated to celebrating Dia de los Muertos.
Paper Tigers blogs about the children's book El dia de los muertos/ The Day of the Dead, a bilingual picture book written and illustrated by Bob Barner and translated by Teresa Mlawer (Holiday House, 2010).
Lastly we have enjoyed this YouTube song in Spanish. The kinders and first graders have been singing it on the playground all week - fun!